Eroica Bike Guidelines and Why They’re Important


Because you spoil it for others who have made a real effort and you make yourself look either a nobber or a cheapskate, or both.

Go on, explain yourself, man!

You may have noticed, I’m a big fan of the Eroica events. I’d love, when I retire, to complete a full set of them. The people, the atmosphere, the bikes and the rides are all tremendous… and a special mention must go to the volunteers and folks along the route who just come out for a jolly good day out – whether it’s in Gaole en Chianti or The Peak District.

Luckily, the folks who enter the rides are generally enthusiastic enough and knowledgeable enough to do their research on standards of dress and the bike guidelines.

Note: Everyone refers to them as ‘Rules’ except l’Eroica themselves, who prefer the term ‘Guidelines’ which is a little more inclusive. Notwithstanding, they then go on to say: “Any registered cyclist who arrives at the start line or is found on the course with a bicycle that does not conform to the rules and regulations of the event will be disqualified immediately.” Guidelines, eh?

So there you have it – they ask nicely, they offer guidance before the event then they chuck you out. Insofar as one can be chucked out of an event run largely on public roads.

What is an Heroic Bike?

Essentially a road racing bike that would have been in use up to and including 1987, so that’s:

  • No carbon fibre
  • Steel (or by exception lugged aluminium frames such as Alan and Vitus)
  • No cleats
  • No ergo shifters
  • External cable routing at the handlebars
  • No brifters – downtube or tasteful, non-indexed bar-end shifters only…
  • …unless you’re riding a Cambio Corsa / Parigi Roubaix / Vittoria Margherita etc in which case, go you (so long as the shifters are original)!
  • Wheels must be low profile (max 20mm)
  • Wheels must have 32 spokes minimum
  • Period-appropriate saddles are encouraged

Interestingly, the rider is left free-range on the gearing, in acknowledgement of the difficulty of some of the routes. Also, modern-built but period-appropriate bikes, which comply with the above requirements, are also allowed. (Bianchi l’Eroica – we’re looking at you)

Full Guidelines here for Eroica Gaiole and Rules for Eroica Britannia.

Buy It Now

That doesn’t stop eBay sellers cashing-in on the good name of l’Eroica and general enthusiasm of the cycling public for all things vintage by inserting the words ‘Eroica’ or ‘Eroica eligible’ (which should also be hyphenated) into inappropriate listings: listings for items which absolutely will get you frowned upon or chucked off the course.

Take this bike, for example, listed recently on an eBay site under the heading:

“Bici da corsa FIMAS Alluminio e Carbonio Campagnolo EROICA”

Non Eroica 01

Have a look at the photo above. This is a fairly typical example, and when next spring rolls around there will be hundreds more of them clogging up eBay with their search-term-spamming. This bike’s:

  • Post-1987
  • Aluminium
  • Got carbon forks and seatstays
  • Got brifters
  • Got 24 spokes per wheel
  • A crap attempt to promote a bike as Eroica-eligible
  • Even got Carbon Fibre in the listing title
  • Taking the piss

It’s actually got quite a nice groupset on it, but the addition of the word Eroica to the title will have added £100-£200 to the starting price.

So, what do we draw from this?

A straw poll, conducted by yours truly, wandering around the fields and lanes of 3 separate Eroica events reveals that thankfully most folks are smart enough to do their research and tell the difference between an eligible bike and a non-eligible bike.

Don’t be that guy who does turn up on a bike like the one above. You’ll spoil the fancy dress party for everyone else, you’ll put the marshals, volunteers and your fellow riders in an awkward position and you’ll look a knob.

There are plenty of things you can do with a bike like the above (even excluding stripping the groupset and re-selling it to an Eroica-nut) It would make a smashing commuter or winter bike, I dare say it’s light, stiff, responds well to out-of-the-saddle efforts and all sorts of other Bikes Etc adjectives.

It’s just not very heroic.


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